Even as Disney prepares the launch of a third "Star Wars" trilogy, expected to be set after the events of "Return of the Jedi," Dark Horse Comics is returning to the post-original trilogy era first as the publisher is set to launch a second "Star Wars: Legacy" series in 2013.
The latest volume of the title will be written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman -- best known for their well-received run on BOOM! Studios' "Planet of the Apes" comics. Hardman also provides interior art while Dave Wilkins is the cover artist.
Originally launching in 2006 from writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema, the 50-issue run of "Star Wars: Legacy" featured Cade Skywalker, long-presumed to be a descendant of Ben Skywalker and thereby, the last remaining Skywalker.
This new series features a descendant of Han Solo and Leia Organa, who, Bechko and Hardman told CBR News exclusively, is named Ania Solo. Bechko and Hardman also shared details about the Imperial Knight and Mon Calamari featured on the cover for "Star Wars: Legacy"#1.
With a tale taking place shortly after the original "Star Wars: Legacy" series, the writers also teased that Cade Skywalker may also appear, though not in the opening arc. For now, we have the promise of stories set some 100 years after the Battle of Yavin featuring Jedi, Sith, the Force and a descendant of Han and Leia. What's not to love?
CBR News: First off, what is your history with "Star Wars?" Are you long-time fans of the source material?
Corinna Bechko: [Laughs] Yes, you could say that.
Gabriel Hardman: The appeal of doing this is being able to play in that world. Both of us were three years old when the first "Star Wars" movie came out. We saw it in the theater, and speaking for myself, I've been an enormous "Star Wars" fan for years, and the opportunity to make up a story in the world of Star Wars is incredibly appealing.
Bechko: It's funny, but before we got this gig, I filled out a questionnaire and there was a question about the earliest movie I can recall that really influenced me -- and I wrote down "Star Wars." That is absolutely true. To get this opportunity is an amazing, amazing honor.
Hardman: We're of that first generation of "Star Wars" fans. It's been an ever-present, pop cultural influence for us.
You're then obviously psyched about the new "Star Wars" movies that are coming out, then. Do you feel any added pressure to be writing in the future, more than 100 years after the Battle of Yavin, when you know Lucasfilm's writers will be mining this same fertile ground for at least three feature films?
Hardman: Of course. We have no idea of what's going to happen in the movies; we're just trying to tell an exciting story that would work no matter what. And the era that our story is set is likely well after what they would be dealing with in the movies anytime soon, no matter what.
Is the first issue "Star Wars: Legacy" #1, or "Star Wars: Legacy, Vol. 2" #1 or "Star Wars: Legacy" #1 with a subtitle like "War?"
Hardman: It should be #1. It's a new volume, which should start with #1. It follows the previous one, but it's not directly following on it -- it's not about the same characters.
Dark Horse's last story from this era, "Star Wars: Legacy -- War," was set 138 years after the Battle of Yavin. How much further into the future does your story take place?
Hardman: Like I said, it follows relatively soon after the conclusion of the previous "Star Wars: Legacy." It's set in that era.
Do you need to have read "Star Wars: Legacy" or "Star Wars: Legacy -- War" to follow this story?
Bechko: No, absolutely not.
Hardman: We certainly build on everything that John Ostrander and Jan Duursema did in the previous one, and it takes place in that world, but it should work equally for people that know that stuff and those that don't.
Bechko: But hopefully, if you do pick up ours and like it, you'll want to go back and read their rich tapestry, which they built over 50-plus issues.
The lead character of this adventure is the great-granddaughter of Han Solo and Leia Organa. Beyond that, what can you tell us about her?
Hardman: As far as her actual lineage goes and exactly how she's related to Han and Leia is something that is a little bit of a mystery and we're not going to be paying off anytime soon. A lot of the "Legacy" era has been about these larger-than-life Emperors and royalty -- we're taking this down to much more of a ground level. Ania Solo is somebody that is not a part of that world, and she doesn't have a personal connection to it. She may have even turned her back on it.
Bechko: She's living in a backwater, Outer Rim system. She runs a junkyard and she doesn't have that many prospects, and that's where we start things. Our story takes off there.
Hardman: That's where the big change in her life is going to happen. She's launched into an adventure that involves much bigger stakes than anything she's been up against before.
Bechko: She's certainly brash enough to recognize an opportunity when she finds it. It's not necessarily bravery, but it's maybe not something a wiser person might do.
What's that opportunity?
Hardman: She finds a lightsaber.
Awesome. Does she know how to use it?
Bechko: No, absolutely not. [Laughs]
Hardman: We're so far out in the middle of nowhere that they're not even entirely sure what it is when they find it. She's not overly Force-sensitive. She's a character that relies on her wits, and when she finds this lightsaber, it really just gets her into trouble and draws some seriously unwanted attention that launches her into this story.
Traditionally, "Star Wars" adventures -- heck any adventures -- are driven by a male lead. Why the decision to center this story on a female character, namely Ania Solo?
Hardman: The idea of a female lead was pitched to us, and that was a big, big thing that drew us to this project. It's fundamentally the opportunity to do something different in the "Star Wars" universe. It's a female character driving things so it gives you a new perspective on the universe but it's also a new way to tell classic "Star Wars" stories -- or a classic type of "Star Wars" story -- just from a fresh perspective.
Bechko: Certainly "Star Wars" has a history of strong female leads. or at least strong female characters. It's nice to have one actually take the lead in this case.
She really doesn't take a lot of guff. It's nice to have a character act in that way and yet not be a traditional bad-ass female lead like you sometimes see. She's not exactly that, but I like her attitude.
Hardman: Obviously, she comes from a lineage of characters that can take care of themselves and there's no question that she can do that. But she has flaws and she's not, as Corinna was saying, she's not a traditional, two-dimensional character. She's somebody that has the potential to be an inspiring but very down-to-Earth human sort of character, as well.
Does she know and understand the importance of her lineage?
Hardman: That's something that we're going to get to in the series. I don't really want to spoil it. All of this stuff is something that we're headed towards. We're telling a story, and we're inviting the reader to come along with us on the story and find out these things as we go. We don't want to end up writing a genealogy or a textbook. [Laughs] We want to draw you in there and tell a big adventure story that leads you to all of these answers.
Who is the imposing figure featured to Ania's left on the cover?
Hardman: He's Yalta Val and he's an Imperial Knight. And Imperial Knights were a huge aspect of the previous "Legacy" series and something that's a really cool addition to the "Star Wars" expanded universe. He represents the new Triumvirate government and runs into some trouble in this Outer Rim system. I don't want to go any further, but he's an enormous part of how the story starts.
What about the Mon Calamari you've teased on the cover? Is he Admiral Ackbar's great-grandson?
Hardman: [Laughs] No, that's Sauk. Previously in "Star Wars: Legacy," there was a horrible catastrophe where the home world of the Mon Calamari has become uninhabitable and one of the many refugees out there in the galaxy is Sauk. He's just trying to scrape by. He's found a solid job at this ice mining facility --
Bechko: -- which is far beneath his talent.
Hardman: Yes, but he's trying to make his way in the world. He's actually a talented engineer that is a friend of Ania. And he is pulled into this adventure by her.
Bechko: We love the Mon Calamari. We're really big fans.
Hardman: I've always loved Admiral Ackbar. He's one of my favorite characters from "Star Wars." I love that moment in "Return of the Jedi" when they finally win and everybody else is cheering and Admiral Ackbar hangs his head, resigned, because they've won -- but at such a cost. I think that soulfulness is a big part of the Mon Calamari and we wanted to give everybody a very different character than that but one who that still represents that kind of existence.
Bechko: I thought that it was great to see so much of the story in the previous "Legacy," and we thought we have to get the Mon Calamari back into our story.
Hardman: We wanted to have these threads that followed through from the previous story. And we do see what's happening on the highest levels of trying to organize a government or an Empire -- a triumvirate actually -- and we do follow through with the strands that John and Jan had set up and it's definitely all still part of the world but we're focusing in very small at the beginning on this tiny, little backwater system, which is sort of a microcosm of what's going on and we can expand out from there.
On the cover released to CBR, there is a lightsaber duel in the foreground. That alone tells me this story expands beyond a little backwater system. Does the Force -- both light and dark, both Jedi and Sith -- play a role in this series?
Bechko: Absolutely, yes.
Hardman: At the end of John's and Jan's run, the Sith were defeated and they spread out across the galaxy to hide and lay in wait. What we're doing may very well have something to do with that.
Darth Krayt was the antagonist for most of "Star Wars: Legacy." He's returned from the death before, and I am sure if he has again, you're not saying, but does your series have a featured Dark Lord of the Sith?
Hardman: We definitely have a Sith in the story.
Bechko: To say who may be a spoiler.
What about Cade Skywalker? Is he a part of your story?
Hardman: We don't see him in the first arc, and that was very deliberate on our part because what we did not want to do was come in and step on all the work that Jan and John did. They had 50 issues to tell their arc for Cade and they were able to bring it around. I don't know what we would have to say about that if we came in and immediately picked up his story. It would feel like we were lessening the power of that. But he is in this world and I don't doubt that we will meet him again.
Hardman: I want to add that it is a huge honor to follow John and Jan on this.
Bechko: It's a huge privilege.
Hardman: I've been a fan of John Ostrander's stuff since I was a kid. I loved "Suicide Squad" and I've always had a tremendous admiration for his writing, so it's extremely cool to be able to follow them on "Legacy."
One final question: Will we see R2-D2 or any other classic characters from the original movies? I realize we are more than 100 years in the future, but that still works for droids and, I'm assuming, those in a Jedi hibernation trance.
Hardman: There are no plans right now to bring back really specific references to the earlier movies. Honestly, it's about existing in that world and telling a new story in that world. Certainly there are references to races and locations, but the biggest priority for us is to make this feel like "Star Wars."
We've been writing "Planet of Apes" for more than a year, and we're big fans of that, as well. The first series we did of "Planet of the Apes," our biggest priority was to make that world feel like it feel like the world of the movies. That's our mission here, as well. It is set in the future, and all of these characters might be unfamiliar to some, but we want to convince you that this is the world of "Star Wars" and feel like the most important things are capturing that excitement and energy --
Bechko: -- and the romance, the humor and the action.
Corrina, you jumped right in there with romance. Are we going to see a love interest for Ania?
I meant the more traditional, broader sense of romance, but that's certainly a part of "Star Wars." I won't say anything specific, but we will not leave that out!
"Star Wars: Legacy," Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, debuts in early 2013.